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Accuracy Assessment of a Remote Sensing-Based, Pan-European Forest Cover Map Using Multi-Country National Forest Inventory Data

A pan-European forest cover map (FMAP2006) was produced using a novel automated classification approach using remotely sensed data from fine resolution satellite instruments. In contrast to previous classification accuracy assessments of such continental scale land cover products, the current study aimed for a reliable assessment at different geographical levels: pan-European, regional and local level. A unique data set consisting of detailed field inventory plots was provided via a collaboration with the national forest inventories (NFIs) in Europe. Close to 900,000 field plots were available for the assessment. The fine spatial resolution of the FMAP2006 facilitated the label assignment of the field plots to subsets of mapped pixels for the accuracy assessment process, thereby overcoming scale and definition difficulties encountered in previous studies with coarser resolution products. An overall accuracy of 88% was achieved at pan-European level based on the field plots of the NFIs. It is demonstrated that important differences exist for the class accuracies in different geographical regions, particularly at the regional and local level.